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How to Handle Ebola Waste Removal

The Nebraska Medical Center shares its best practices.

Published: December 2, 2014

A medical center experienced in disposing of Ebola waste is sharing its keys to success. The Nebraska Biocontainment Unit at the Nebraska Medical Center, which has treated several Ebola patients, shares its best practices for Ebola waste removal in the December issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

The treatment of the Ebola patients at the Nebraska Medical Center produced more than 50 pounds of solid waste per day, mostly in the form of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the Association for Processionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). Additionally, the patients produced 2.3 gallons of liquid waste per day.

The waste generated by treating Ebola patients is considered by the U.S. Department of Transportation as category A — meaning it's known or expected to contain a pathogen that can cause a fatal disease. Waste in this category takes several steps to treat, and even requires a special permit, says APIC.

To remove the waste, the center transferred all solid waste — including PPE, towels and linens — to a pass-through autoclave system. After being sterilized, APIC says the center then placed the waste in biohazard bags and then into rigid packaging, which let it be disposed of as category B medical waste.

For liquid waste, APIC says the center used hospital-grade disinfectant in a toilet. The waste was held with the disinfectant for 2.5 times longer than the manufacturer's recommended time before flushing, exceeding CDC guidelines.

Recently, APIC, along with AORN and several other organizations, released a list of 5 recommendations that facilities should follow while disposing of Ebola waste.

Kendal Gapinski


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